With an immersive set of touch-up tools and a gigantic, established userbase, Instagram video has been poised to gobble home screen face-time from its mobile rival Vine. But as Mat Honan of Wired explains, Vine’s popularity persists, despite Instagram’s robust features and abundant community.
The reason for this, he ventures, is the loyalty that Vine engenders, the accommodation and empowerment of minority and youth expression, and its mode of self-documentation that remains off-the-cuff and authentic. On Vine’s culture Honan says it “feels loose, informal, and — frankly — really fucking weird.” He means this as a compliment, of course, another way of saying Vine has personality, one that contrasts with a pleasantly sterile Instagram “In short, it’s cool. It’s hip. It’s a scene. If Instagram is an art museum, Vine is a block party.”
Offering not a rival view but a cooperative explanation, Collin Fletcher presents his case at Medium: “On paper, Instagram made a better product. They pushed software development hard to make something that gives the user a more powerful tool for creation. Impressive, sure; but it overlooks the culture defined by Instagram’s users.” This culture was based on beautiful picture taking, not video editing, as Honan reminds us.
Vine’s latest upgrade, on the other hand, focused on what Vine does best, making the product more “amenable to how people are using it” argues Fletcher. The refreshing spontaneity of prank videos and bizarre impromptus were in mind as Vine’s developers churned out additions like Channels, Discovery, and Revine.
Fletcher summarizes the design thinking: “…it appears that Vine has come to realize how most people use Vine, and what makes the app unique. So today they’re shaping the product to nourish that culture rather than add function for the sake of a better product.” Here he makes a smart distinction between the objective improvement of specs versus the intangible affinity users have toward cherished products.
Together, Fletcher and Honan offer a persuasive case for Vine’s resilience. (As Honan points out, Vine remains the most downloaded non-game app at the iTunes store.) Because of its unique cultural force and the product design that bolsters it, the two give an affirmative to the question Is This The End Of The Vine Experiment?